MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – A pair of area Boy Scouts took it upon themselves to help improve the community as they helped build a pergola and patio for the Ronald McDonald House in Marshfield.
Two Boy Scouts, Alex Thompson and Cody Donovan, approached the Ronald McDonald House about helping them with a project. Over the span of three years, Donovan completed a patio with landscaping around the area to go with it. He finished the project in 2020.
Thompson then took over and built a wooden pergola to help provide shade and a visually appealing aesthetic to the space. He said knowing that the Ronald McDonald House had worked with scouts before was a huge help when deciding where and how to do the project.
“I learned of the Ronald McDonald House when an older scout did his Eagle Project there,” Thompson said. “I knew they were familiar with working with Scouts and would know how the process works, and they could possibly help me through it. When I was ready to decide on a project, Cody had already made the patio, and one of the ideas they had was to put a pergola around it. I decided to go with the pergola, as I have done woodworking projects before with my father.”
Thompson has been in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts since the fifth grade and has lived in the area his whole life. He began planning the pergola project as a freshman in high school and completed it years later.
Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Iilee Pederson said the duo did a fantastic job creating a space that people want to be around.
“Both projects are a tremendous asset to our backyard and have helped create a dedicated space for gathering, play and respite for our families,” Pederson said. “Our families love spending time in the backyard.”
In 2016, Ronald McDonald House in Marshfield accommodated 201 families totaling 5,432 nights of stays. With all these families cycling in and out, Pederson said it is nice to have a place to go that is peaceful and away from the stressors of the hospital.
“Oftentimes, our Ronald McDonald House families do not realize how the hustle and bustle of the Hospital can affect their mental state until they have quiet moments at Ronald McDonald House to rest and reflect,” Pederson said. “The backyard has become a space for families to customize to their needs. We have families that use the patio and pergola to sit and visit with extended family and others that take a moment to sit on the bench and listen to the fountain quietly.”
Thompson, a senior at Edgar High School, said finishing the project was very rewarding.
“After the project was completed, I felt very accomplished and was very gratified knowing that I planned out and led the construction of something very tangible that people in the community could enjoy and make use of,” Thompson said.
The project helped Thompson realize that giving back to the community is something that all young people should partake in.
“I think all youth should take part in it, and it really helps kids find a place in their community,” Thompson said. “Being in Scouts has helped me take part in community service, and I feel that the experience of leading a project like the one I did makes me feel like part of the community, and was very beneficial to my personal growth.”
“Our partnership with various Eagle Scouts has been very rewarding over the years,” Pederson said. “We are able to witness growth and maturity throughout the project and in the end, Ronald McDonald House has quality, well thought-out projects to benefit our families. We are constantly brainstorming how to better serve our families both inside and outside of the House and would welcome discussions from any other interested Eagle Scouts or community individuals for future projects.”
Thompson has yet to earn his Eagle Scout honor but working through a community service project was just one of the things Boy Scouts are required to do before achieving the Eagle rank. In order for a Scout to earn Eagle, the biggest requirements are to hold different leadership positions within the troop, complete 21 merit badges, and lead a community service project.
The Ronald McDonald House is currently working on cleaning up the leaves that have fallen in the yard and are planning to build a “Little Free Library”. They will need volunteer help with both projects.
If interested in helping the Ronald McDonald House as a volunteer, you or your group can contact the Ronald McDonald House at [email protected] to see what you or your group can help with.
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